Covenant HomeCare and Hospice has been recognized as a top tier (Level V) partner with We Honor Veterans, a national awareness and action campaign created to assist veterans receiving end-of-life hospice care. Covenant Hospice previously had earned a Level IV designation, which was the highest level for the initiative until 2019, when criteria were added for a higher Level V. Covenant Hospice is one of 25 organizations in the nation and two healthcare entities in the state of Tennessee to achieve a Level V designation.
We Honor Veterans was developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The initiative encourages partnerships between community hospices, state hospice organizations and VA facilities and provides recognition to organizations known as “partners” that demonstrate a systematic commitment to improving care for veterans. Designation levels are assessed annually, and criteria include the participating organization’s number of activities and community events for veterans, assistance for veterans in connecting with resources such as VA healthcare benefits, training for staff and volunteers, and recognition of military service among hospice patients who are veterans and their families.
“With almost a third of our hospice patients being veterans, it is humbling and special to be able to thank them for their service and then see the appreciation of these men and women,” said John Huskey, president of Covenant HomeCare and Hospice.
What services does Covenant HomeCare and Hospice provide for veterans?
Since December 2018, Covenant Homecare and Hospice has increased the number of activities and support services offered for veterans. Hospice staff and volunteers have received additional training to better serve a broader population of veterans who have served during World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some are former POWs.
Most recently, as part of achieving Level V designation, Covenant Hospice has implemented training for staff and volunteers on soul injury, and video webinars on “15 Things Veterans Want You to Know” from the Psych Armor Institute. Covenant Hospice staff also increased community engagement by implementing four Vet-to-Vet Cafés in collaboration with The Waters of Clinton, a 120-bed skilled rehabilitation and nursing home located in Clinton, Tennessee. Covenant Hospice regularly presents ceremonial pins and commendations to veterans to recognize and thank them for their service.
Cindy Winterberger, LMSW, is Covenant HomeCare’s We Honor Veterans coordinator. She facilitates the partnership between the national initiative and Covenant Hospice. This past year Winterberger was unanimously elected to the board of directors for ETMAC, the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council, which will strengthen community partnerships and further growth between Covenant HomeCare and Hospice and veterans.
Winterberger has been a champion for veterans and an integral catalyst for implementing training and activities which resulted in the Level V designation. Winterberger has been able to work with veteran volunteers who provide vet-to-vet visits and to participate in pinning ceremonies in their homes.
“I have been with Covenant HomeCare for 14 years. My dad is a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran and my Grandpa was a WWII Army veteran. Pride in my country has been instilled in me from a young age. If not for the brave men and women who have stood to defend our nation where would we be?,” Winterberger said. “God brought me to Covenant Health in 2006. After the loss of my mother at age 13, I never thought I could work in hospice, but I quickly found that this was what I was meant to do.”
With a Level V designation from We Honor Veterans, Covenant HomeCare and Hospice continues to expand services to better connect with veterans in the community and to provide specialized care for veterans and their families during their end-of-life journeys.
About Covenant HomeCare and Hospice
Covenant HomeCare and Hospice provides a comprehensive range of home care services, from skilled nursing to rehabilitative therapies and specialized care. For those facing end-of-life care, Covenant Hospice provides coordinated, individualized services that address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Covenant HomeCare and Hospice has scored 100 percent on CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) quality measures for patient care, including patients’ treatment preferences related to hospice care. Covenant Homecare and Hospice serves patients in Anderson, Blount, Hamblen, Knox, Loudon, Roane, Sevier, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, Monroe, Morgan, Scott and Union counties.